Personal Injury

Civil lawsuit brings closure, not necessarily justice: Brown

By Tony Poland, Associate Editor

The family of a woman killed after being abandoned by a cab driver on the side of a highway has won a wrongful death lawsuit, but their lawyer, Toronto critical injury lawyer Patrick Brown, who was approached and interviewed by Global News, stated it is “questionable” whether justice was done.

The 34-year-old woman, who was a mother and engaged to be married, was killed while walking on Highway 401 near Islington Avenue in December 2011, according to the news report.

“They had to sue civilly to bring some justice for the death of this lovely young lady,” Brown tells Global News.

She was at a Christmas work party in a Toronto restaurant — hosted by the dental office where she worked as a dental assistant — and left in a cab at the end of the night because she was intoxicated, Global reports.

During the ride to her home in Mississauga, the driver pulled onto the shoulder and left her at the side of highway 401, says Brown, partner with McLeish Orlando LLP.

The cab driver then called 911 and drove off within minutes, leaving the woman on the side of the road, Brown says, and she was struck by a van while on the highway.

“She wanted to go to the bathroom. [The taxi driver] had three opportunities to pull off to the exit to let her out, he didn’t,” he tells Global News. “Eventually he pulls off to the side of the 401, and she exits the car. But then he left to go pick up another fare and there she was staggering and then went onto the 401, was hit, and killed.”

The driver of the van was charged with impaired driving causing death but was found guilty only of impaired driving and fined $2,500, Global reports.

Brown tells the news outlet the taxi driver was never charged. The family sued the cabbie, the impaired driver, the restaurant where she had been drinking and the woman's employer for negligence and punitive damages, he says.

“For the family, I don’t think it was ever about money. I think it was about justice. Whether or not justice was ever served in this case is questionable,” he tells Global. “I think when you look at a case like this and the facts, in a civil lawsuit, it’s paid by insurance companies. It’s defended by insurance companies. But the actual participant defendants aren’t impacted.”

Brown says he hopes the case sends a message to taxi and ride-sharing operators about the responsibility they have to passengers and that proper training should be mandatory.

“No cab driver should ever, ever do what he did that night,” he tells the Toronto Sun. “It’s common sense.”

He tells the newspaper the young mother “had her whole life ahead of her.”

“She paid the ultimate price — her life,” he says. "She and her friends did the right thing. When you are drunk, you take a cab. It’s pretty shameful that no charges were laid against the cabbie and the penalty against the drunk driver seems woefully inadequate. No amount of money would ever be a just result for her loving family."

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